Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tooling Around: A Book Review

Tooling Around: Crafty Creatures and the Tools They Use is a neat look at how animals use tools. It explores the concept of a tool, as there are a few definitions for this, such as "an object that an animal uses to accomplish a goal." Of course, as humans, we use tools all the time.

I like the two page spread with simple two lines of text on one side and a more in depth section on the other side. If I'm reading to younger kids I could just use the simpler side, using the other information as background information with myself. With older kids, I might stick to the more detailed information.
The book looks at finches with a cactus spine, chimps using sticks to get termites, otters using a rock to crack shells, crows using a wire or forked twig for a hook (some local crows will do this), a red deer putting mud and grass to look larger, a bowerbird who builds a nest with paint and decorations, flies that bring a "gift" to a potential mate, dolphins using sponges, squids with coconut shells, and more! None were local to our area, but now I think I will be watching more closely!

At the end, the author has a note looking at the history of tools and animals that use them. Additionally, she shares where the creatures in the book live, additional books related to the topic, websites to peruse, and a bibliography. 

While I really enjoy the book, it's not one I would use with groups as much as it doesn't show our local nature. However, it would fit in well for specific stations or presentations on animal behaviors. It may be perfect for the animal lover kid who wants to learn all about animals and how they act. 

Like animals? Want to encourage children to learn about them through play? Check out this post on 16+ ideas for animal play
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Raindrops Roll: A book review

I love books by April Pulley Sayre. In my experience, they are great read aloud books with carefully chosen words that pack a lot of science and wonder in just a couple of sentences a page. With the short text, it makes these perfect for preschool children; however, I have also read them to adults and older children as well.

This book, Raindrops Roll is all photographs, which makes it different than some of her other books. She took almost all of the photos herself, using her neighbors garden and getting very wet! I like her personal note of thanks specific to this book, naming our local Michiana weather people, her neighbors and husband, as well as others that reviewed the book and made it happen. The book has won several prestigious awards.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Family Nature Bucket List!

Have you made a Nature Bucket List for this summer already? If not, you might want to try it out! A few weeks ago, we sat down and tried an idea we found on Nurture in Nature by Tania Moloney. Find her post here. It has great inspiration and ideas for compiling your own list.

We made this a Family Home Evening activity. One night a week, we try to get together as a family and have a short spiritual thought, activity, treats, and time to talk about our week and where our family is going. It's family time! A few weeks ago, we decided to think of the many natural creations we have been given during this time and make some plans for our summer fun!

We used a few resources, such as our 2015 Michiana Summer Guide, various kids getting outside book, Tania's post, and specifically a new book for us called Go Wild!, as we wanted to to incorporate some adventure and skills we haven't tried just yet. We especially are looking forward to making bowls out of wood and embers. We'll need to blow for a long time!

We started with a big piece of paper we reclaimed from a shipping box and a bunch of markers.

Some kids drew pictures to illustrate what they wanted to do, others helped research or write. We spent time on our WHY first, sharing things like family together time, getting outdoors, exercise, etc. Then we started writing down our lists. At first we just started brainstorming and then we started making different categories. Tania had a few different ideas for this--we did parks/places, sunny days, water, conservation, giving, and learning. 

We skipped the step to decorate our bucket as I use these for all kinds of things and wanted to use it for other purposes later. I let the kids write on most of the clothespins, as they were very engaged and motivated. They became more into it as they wrote more activities. We color coded our activities choosing a color for each type of activity. 

In just a few weeks, we have already had plenty of summer fun from our list! We went to the Indiana Dunes with friends (Silver Beach this time--so much to explore!). 

We pulled garlic mustard (an invasive species) when we visited a cool nature inspired park in Beaverton, Ohio.

We experimented with fire and made s'mores! I'm sure this will be repeated many times. 

We visited Allan Kauffman Park in Goshen, one of our favorite nature play areas nearby. 

And we picked up ice cream at The Chief while playing in the trees. 

It has been a great experience. I feel like these are all things we would be doing anyway. However, there is more buy in from many of the kids. We pulled it out this evening to look at our week and what activities we might do this week. We are using it to document what we have done as we look at the clips we put in the bucket as we finish them. We plan on printing one to two pictures for each activity and writing a card to remember our excursions, putting them in a Project Life book to remember our Family Nature Bucket List Summer! This could be extended year round or recycled. I know many of these are favorite activities for our family. It reminds us of our traditions and encourages us to get outside as a family, spending time in nature together! 

It's currently strawberry picking time, so we will tackle that clip tomorrow. It's an activity we enjoy. Find our strawberry pursuits and tips here. Imagine that--with 4 growing boys, many of our excursions involve food! I was surprised how much they want to forage for food, pick berries, and cook over fires! We will be eating well as we go through the summer! We look forward to more Family Nature Bucket List items! Thanks, Tania!